Living in the City: A Life Update

For all of those following the life and times of A Brummie Home and Abroad in 2018, you may remember that early this year Mr Fletche and I decided to make the move from the house that I bought 22 years ago as a fresh faced naive 18 year old, and move to an apartment in Birmingham City Centre

You can read my previous blogs on this subject if you missed them…

Moving On Up

I Like to Move It (Move it)

So life update… we moved in a week ago! Our apartment is just steps away from St Paul’s Square, a perfect location smack bang between the Jewellery Quarter and the city centre proper. We’re on the third floor with no lift (which meant a pretty exhausting moving in weekend – I now have thighs like Beyoncé), only one parking space but two cars (#firstworldproblems) and we have to try and drive into the one way streets of JQ as everyone who works there is trying to leave. And we’ve had no WiFi in week one. But it’s an improvement on Tyseley. And we have 1000 Trades, St Paul’s House and the Queens Arms (when it reopens) all practically on our doorstep.

Thighs like Beyoncé after all those trips up and down three flights of stairs…

 

So how did we get here? Last time I blogged about this we had just accepted an offer on Chez Fletcher, well above the asking price. And then came the boring bit. Or the dance of the solicitors. We dig out every piece of paperwork that pertains to me, Mr Fletche and the house. They of course want more. My mortgage – now all paid off – remained in my maiden name despite several visits to Santander 10 years ago which means they are questioning my identity. Dr Pete verifies our marriage certificate but they’re still not happy, so off goes the original in the post.

There’s a tiny piece of land behind the house that doesn’t appear on the land registry. This means someone could come along and build a wardrobe sized building on that land. Good luck with getting past the weed-strewn “accessible” alleyways. But we now have to pay £80 for an indemnity insurance to say it’s not our responsibility. And then the same again to the solicitors for sorting this out for us.

And then there’s the boiler issue. This was always going to bite us in the bum. We had it fitted 11 years ago, just as new legislation was coming in about access to the flue. Our boiler installers told us that the old way would be just fine. Which means that every time it has been serviced in the last 10 years we have had a rap on the knuckles and we have been advised not to use it. For the last 10 years. It’s been fine. Nothings blown up yet and we haven’t been carbon monoxide poisoned. But understandably the buyer wants a reduction as compensation for a new boiler. They want a £4k reduction. This seems a bit steep but we don’t want the hassle or any more delays so we give our solicitor up to £3k to negotiate with. She plays hardball, says we’ll reduce by £2.25k only and they accept. We vow to take her with us next time we’re on holiday trying to haggle for holiday trinkets.

At this point, we haven’t started looking for apartments. What’s the point in finding the flat of our dreams only to lose it because the legal stuff is still going on? And then our solicitors call and ask when we can move out. To where? Cue panic appointments to every suitable apartment we can find on Rightmove. We see three together, all in the right location, but none of them hit the spot. We make plans to move into Ma and Pa Lee’s whilst they jet off on their 20th holiday of the year. We take a break from essential home-hunting to go to Rotterdam. And then it’s back to the search.

Rotterdam Cube Houses
How about one of these Mr Fletche? We’ll have fun getting our furniture up that tree trunk…

Mr Fletche goes to see an apartment one lunchtime on his own. When he calls me afterwards, I hear excitement in his voice. Mr Fletche doesn’t generally do excitement. He sends me a video that I can’t open on my phone so I wait with anticipation until I get home. It’s a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, and it’s not horribly furnished. It’s in a great location. It’s top of our monthly budget but the extra money from the house sale will cover the rent for a year or so. It’s third floor and there’s no lift. This will save on gym membership. I trust Mr Fletche and we decide to go for it. References pending, we have ourselves an apartment.

And then Mr Fletche goes to see another apartment. Why Mr Fletche? Why would you do this? Because you know what’s going to happen readers don’t you? Yes, Mr Fletche calls me with even more excitement in his voice, and another video. There’s a lift. And a balcony. But it’s £50 a month over our agreed budget. Is a lift and a balcony worth it? I have seen neither apartment other than Rightmove photos and a wobbly video so I do what most people wouldn’t do. I trust my husband to make the decision. And after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing Mr Fletche confirms that he would have been more than happy to go for Flat A before seeing Flat B. So we’re erasing Flat B from the equation, back to Flat A, where, references pending, we’ve got ourselves an apartment.

I break the good news to our solicitor, giving us a week between moving in and completion date. Our solicitors prepare to exchange. Only for the buyers solicitors to find a discrepancy with the mortgage paperwork. I fear the worst. For the first time in the whole process I believe this is all going to fall through. I am sending frantic messages via email and text to the buyer as I haven’t heard anything from them since the offer was accepted. Radio silence. Mr Fletche and I sit down and sensibly put forth the worst case scenarios. The good news is that we can cope financially with the worst case scenarios. The bad news is no holidays and no money to go out and enjoy our newfound status at city centre residents. We plan to continue our move.

And then… good news! We’ve exchanged! It was that blasted boiler again – no one had thought to let the mortgage lender know about the reduction. It was all down to admin. And we get emails and texts from our buyer finally- they are more than happy to have our three piece suite, beds and dining table off us. It’s full steam ahead, packing up, changing and cancelling suppliers (if you ever get a couple of hours spare in your life, try cancelling your Virgin Media package 🤬)

I’d get more sense out of Butthead…

Its the moment of truth… we’ve signed our tenancy agreement, paid a hefty deposit – and I’m finally getting to see what I’ve signed up for. And luckily for Mr Fletche – I love it. I got straight back to some sort of normalcy by going into work Monday-Wednesday but Mr Fletche took a couple of days off to unpack and sort out essentials things (like buying a desk and a microwave, and hobnobbing with the locals in the Jewellers Arms). And tomorrow, fingers crossed, we complete. Reddings Lane has new occupants, we celebrate by booking our anniversary trip to Costa Rica and we start enjoying a new chapter of our life together 😀

 

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